Last week some coworkers were having a lousy, stressful afternoon, so I offered them one of my Cosmic Brownies. No, not one of those "cosmic" brownies. I'm talking about the fudge-covered, candy-sprinkled, individually wrapped trifles from snack cake purveyor Little Debbie. Suddenly the room lit up and everyone started sharing stories of childhoods spent cramming countless Fudge Rounds, Zebra Cakes, and Star Crunches down their gullets. Everyone, it seems, has a favorite Little Debbie snack. And as we engaged in a little sugar coma-induced nostalgia, it got me wondering: Who is this elusive Little Debbie who has fattened up America's youth for years?
Visions of a precocious, business-savvy orphan danced in my head. Perhaps, after making a fortune selling tasty, low-cost treats by the age of 12, she became a jet-setting teenager who won over socialites the world 'round with her charm, those freckles and the secret recipe for her addictive coffee cakes (my friend regularly eats an entire carton when depressed). Maybe after a string of failed marriages to Greek shipping heirs (are you paying attention, Paris?) she wound up a cranky, sherry-swilling divorcee who spent her twilight years preying on the pretty young things at Chateau Marmont. Surely there must have been a feud or two with fellow kid magnates Shirley Temple or Wendy Thomas.
Who knows? All I can get from the Little Debbie website is that in 1960 O.D. McKee wanted a catchy name for his new line of pre-packaged oatmeal cream pies and he picked his red-headed granddaughter. The rest remains a mystery. But I suppose we already know what's important: Little Debbie cakes are delicious, cheap, terrible for you and fortified with enough kitsch to make them an instant hit with the post-ironic crowd. And for all that, Little Debbie, we are forever in your debt. Now give me another Fudge Round.